Teens in Solitary Confinement

New York City's Rikers Island is one of the country's biggest jails: It houses about 12,000 adults, alongside hundreds of 16- and 17-year-olds. Many of these juveniles – most of whom have been charged but not yet tried – end up in solitary confinement as punishment for breaking rules like fighting, possessing cigarettes or even horseplay.


A scene from CIR's new animation, 'The Box,'
recounting one teen’s experience in solitary confinement.


No media outlets have been allowed to see the solitary cells, which inmates call "the box." And no one can talk to the teens who are there. But reporters Daffodil Altan and Trey Bundy from The Center for Investigative Reporting talked to young men, elected officials and guards who have been there – creating a disturbing portrait of life inside the box.

Below, watch CIR's new animation, The Box, about one juvenile's experience of life in solitary confinement. It features "Life in Marvelous Times," a song from Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, and produced by DJ Preservation.